Tom Parsley and Jon Punt dissect a disappointing end to a delightful run. We go again, yeah? At least that's what they think.
"The first half an hour was as good as I've seen since being here" was Daniel Farke’s hot take with the print boys, and it's probably as complete a 30 minute's performance as there has been at Carrow Road (against a competitive team from the same division) since the early 90s.
Derby couldn’t get out of their own half. Even when they did, Klose and Zimmermann ably won the ball back and gave it to someone more technically gifted to mount another attack. Usually that man was Mario Vrancic.
The Bosnian’s prowess with the ball at his feet was in full effect, be it via a raking ball wide for the opener, or a perfectly weighted pass for Pukki to take two simple touches before doubling the lead. Vrancic was instrumental to everything good Norwich were trying to do. Leitner might be a huge miss, but there probably isn’t a better understudy playmaker in the league.
The identity is there, the feeling of unity is there, if this team fades to a playoff finish, there are already so many positives to draw. The feeling of going to Carrow Road is brilliant again. If City get a little more luck with injuries, 2nd place is the floor for this team.
The way in which Norwich defended set pieces, from what were relatively poor deliveries, was galling, frustrating and exasperating. Unfortunately it was Pukki with the telling touch for both first half concessions. Maybe let the man occupy the half way line in the future.
Lampard’s men hadn’t had a kick before that, mere Year 7s playing with the sixth formers, ready to get their heads flushed if they continued in that vein. To let them back in without really dealing with second balls has to be an area the coaching staff address soon.
Too many players remain static in the second phase, which in turn heaps pressure on the frontline to produce week in, week out.
Random star performer
Pukki took his goals really well and deserves a mention for his tireless pressing. Onel was a menace; strong, direct and he keeps emerging like Jon Snow from a pile of bodies with the ball. We’re pretty sure he is quadruple jointed all over, given the way he squirms free of the close attentions of opponents.
But let’s give it to Ben Godfrey, if only for being always happy to receive the ball, get forward whenever was needed and for popping up with a well taken first. All in a position he’s probably never played. Yoof, yoof, yoof.
Moment of the match
With City celebrating their third goal and seemingly three points on 81 minutes, Frank Lampard said "Let there be dark" and the River End/Wensum corner duly obliged.
As Farke said afterwards, City were happy to play on and Derby wanted to take the time to regroup. As Lampard himself conceded, this changed the result and has halted the current momentum in our season.
The officials could potentially be questioned here too. If the corner flag in the darkest area of the ground is fully visible from the back of Block E in the Barclay, there seems no plausible reason why the managers needed to be consulted at all. Yeah, our grapes are sour, but we’re football fans.
The Canary troops had fought many late counter offensives in recent days and after the hour mark were visibly struggling. Cantwell's decision making looked as tired as Tettey's slow trudge around the centre circle, where he resembled Pathe news reel footage of WW1 weary combatants.
Farke could have freshened things up with Rhodes Trybull and anyone else from 65 onwards and given us more staying power. If the floodlights held out, he probably would have been proven right and we would have ground out the win or at worst a draw. But by the time the cavalry were introduced and up to speed, the damage was done and City looked shell shocked in the face of a barrage of freshly motivated Rams.
That said, Farke has more than earned today's questionable substitute hesitation, by virtue of getting so many calls right over the last three months.
The flags display made its first foray into Block B of the Barclay and, in our humble view, looked the best it has so far. That wall of colour makes for a fine atmosphere during the opening stages of matches, yet when the team really needed the supporters we were nervous. The tension could be felt in the air, and that often transmits itself to the players. We don’t know if there’s a real answer, but we can do better.
However, when the support was good, it was really good. Reports of singing in both the South Stand and River End are at this stage unconfirmed, but very pleasing to hear. Keep it up you lot.
Two goals to the good, this felt like the routine home win we’d all been craving. No comeback required, just a gentle saunter to all three points. How wrong we were, although on the balance of play this was City’s to lose, and lose they did.
It could have so easily been different, Pukki's second was so electrifying it caused an unfortunate power outage. Yet a point could have been snatched via Srbeny’s header, Rhodes swivel and shot or Cantwell’s placed strike. When the pressure is on this team have no problems creating chances. That will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.
The bigger picture is that it’s 2 defeats in 20 matches. No panic required, just regroup and go again. Promoted sides dust themselves off and get a result in their next test. Onto Griffin Park.
While you're here.....
Along with our friends at Barclay End Norwich, we've put a new exclusive badge on sale. Links below, all profits are going straight into the crowdfunder for the flags....